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Former Detroit Officers Award $6.5 Million in Whistleblower Lawsuit

A Michigan jury found the former mayor and City of Detroit liable of violating the state’s Whistleblower Protection Act (WPA) and awarded a pair of ex-police officers $6.5 million.

Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and the City of Detroit were found liable by a Wayne County Circuit Court jury of violating Michigan’s WPA on September 11, 2007. Gary Brown and Harold Nelthrope, former Detroit police officers, filed the lawsuit, claiming retaliation for raising corruption questions about Kilpatrick and his security unit.

Before allegedly being fired in 2003, Brown said he was investigating some members of the security unit who were potentially involved in cover-ups, falsifying overtime, and drunk-driving accidents. He was also looking into claims that Kilpatrick’s bodyguards were assisting him in infidelity to his wife.

Nelthrope, as an officer assigned to the unit, admitted to assisting Kilpatrick in his affairs with women, including Christine Beatty, his chief of staff who later denied the allegation. Kilpatrick’s staff retaliated by leaking a confidential document revealing other members of the unit naming Nelthrope as the informant. Nelthrope was transferred and due to safety concerns, couldn’t return to work.

Kilpatrick denied all allegations of infidelity and retaliation. He said Brown was demoted, not fired, as deputy chief of internal affairs because his judgment was untrustworthy, but he received a full-service retirement. Kilpatrick added that Nelthrope received a disability pension.

The jury found that Brown and Nelthrope fell under the WPA’s protection where they had a “reasonable belief” that their employer or co-worker was violating rules, laws or regulations. The jury, therefore, awarded $2.9 million to Nelthrope and $3.6 million to Brown.

Source: Associated Press

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